Capital and Bestsellers

The Huffington Post is excited about the wealth manifesto Capital In the 21st Century

The top story on the Huffington Post right now is the success of an unlikely bestseller, a translation of the French Economist Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

What interests me right now is the quoted sales figures. Jia Lynn Wang of Wonkblog is ecstatic about the numbers.

The book has sold about 48,000 hardcover copies and 8,000 to 9,000 e-book versions, according to Susan Donnelly, sales and marketing director at Harvard University Press, the publisher behind the English-language version of the book. (The book written originally in French and released there last year.)

There are presses cranking it out in the United States, India and Britain, and the book is in at least its fourth run. Even though the book was already a hit in its native France, it’s now taking off among English readers around the world, said Donnelly. She expects that sales in China, Hong Kong and Japan will also soon follow.

As a comic book fan, I acknowledge the need to grow the market when estimated sales just over 50,000 are enough to get an issue into the top 25. So, it always surprised me to see a reminder of the problems of the rest of the publishing industry. And nothing highlights that as much as the runaway success of a title with sales in the mid five figures. I’m sure it’ll sell more with the feedback loop of all the current media coverage, but it showcases the level of attention we’ll give to something that ultimately reaches a limited number of eyeballs.

About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. You can email me at
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